Gross Reservoir: One of Boulder’s Best Kept Secrets
Summer is approaching and it is a glorious thing. For those looking to hike, bike, climb and fish, it is time to head past your favorite Chautauqua hike and to get deeper into the Front Range. Summer in Boulder means adventuring during the day and soaking up the campfire glow at night. For those that are lucky, over the next few months your puffy jacket will be drenched in a smoky smell and your Subaru will have a thin layer of mud on the floorboards. Boulder sits in the gateway to the Rockies and within an hour drive there are countless camping locations, climbing hideaways, and world class hikes.
Gross Reservoir is about an hour outside of Boulder and is home to great dispersed camping, numerous hiking trails, and a small amount of climbing. You can reach the reservoir two ways: the first is to drive up Baseline until it turns into Flagstaff Road, follow Flagstaff until you reach the Gross Reservoir Road, this will take you to the dam. The second is to head up Boulder Canyon until you turn onto Magnolia Road. Follow Magnolia up a series of switchbacks and onto a dirt section of the road, from here turn down Forest Service Road 68, one more turn onto Forest Service Road 359 and it will take you to the lake.
Camping at Gross is on the West side of the lake in the Roosevelt National Forest and most sites require a high-clearance vehicle unless you don’t mind a few mile walk. As you walk the trails down to the lake you will pass a handful of trailside boulders that may require a bit of cleaning but are great examples of the amazing Colorado granite. For those solely interested in climbing at Gross, the best locations are along Gross Dam Road, located on the south and east portions of the lake (More information regarding these areas is available in Bouldering Colorado: More Than 700 Premier Boulders Throughout the State, written by Bob Horan).
Other activities around the lake include fishing, boating (in non-motorized boats only), and hiking. Fishing is allowed along the entire lakeshore and the Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks the lake with a variety of bass and trout. However, if you decide after waking up and drinking some campfire coffee that a hike is more your style, you can find trails along the shores of the lake and from the North Point picnic area. So, grab your tent and a good pair of boots, and get ready to head off the beaten track and to go check out some of Boulder’s hidden gems.